Last week I mentioned that if you’ve had email for more than a minute, then you’ve gotten a forward from a friend. It was meant as humor, but unfortunately, it’s pretty close to the truth.
I have some friends that I would consider to be pretty darn smart. Like designing aircraft smart. Flying helicopters smart. Organizing social events for hundreds of people within a few days smart. Yet these are the same people who send me forwards that show me what they are thinking (conservative, liberal) based on totally fictional statements!
The most recent two forwards (in the last two days!) were about how our socialist anti-military president recently ordered all our first-line naval vessels into Pearl Harbor for surprise and unstated upgrades. All very mysterious. But if you’re a current-president hating conservative who believes everything he does is evil, then you love the message.
A quick search on the web shows that the last time five large naval vessels were ordered to port at one time is from 1997, in Norfolk VA. Not “first-line” vessels, it had something to do with nuclear upgrades, and certainly nowhere near Hawaii. At the same time, there was nothing in the Hawaiian news about such a momentous event as five large vessels at the same time. Trust me, having all those sailors hitting Waikiki beach at the same time would make quite a splash!
The other forward stated that a new anti-Jesus film was coming out soon casting Jesus and his posse as homosexuals. Another search stated that not only was this a very old forward, it had existed on paper back in the early 80s!
When I get these forwards I take a few seconds to check them. Then I write back to my friend and point out that, just maybe, their information is wrong. I always get an interesting response. After a while I stop getting as many forwards. Are they still my friends? I hope so, I’m not going to let that worry me. Are they still sending out as many forwards? I hope not.
As our society gets dumber, it’s up to those who still care to fight the tide. Be a skeptic. Trust no one. No bit of information is too small to be suspect. Being skeptical is an important trait to be a good scientist. And if we intend to be scientists of behavior, it’s going to be especially important.
Believe it. Or not?